– simple & pure life –
My first trip to Costa Rica was this past January for one of my best girlfriends’ 35th birthday! We had some amazing experiences and really made the most out of our week long trip to the Manuel Antonio & Quepos area.
We were in Costa Rica for a week – 6 of those days were spent in the Quepos area.
If you’re visiting the same area, I hope these tips and ideas of things to do are helpful!
Travel Itinerary Guideline
We had a solid 5 days of excursions!! I would highly recommend booking the morning trips so that you have your afternoons and evenings free. I am not a morning person but getting up to do such fun things was no big deal at all. Since we booked mostly morning adventures, we were able to relax by the pool, take a nap, or go to happy hour/dinner, etc in the afternoons and evenings.
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Now For The Fun Stuff!
Here’s a look at some of my favorite parts of our trip.
Zip Line Through The Jungle
I’ve been zip lining before visiting Costa Rica it didn’t even compare to the ones here!! This is probably one of the things that everyone thinks of when they hear Costa Rica. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!
I’d recommend booking online or through a company before getting there. You don’t want to miss out on this excursion.
Suspended bridges, 10 different zip lines, one that was over a mile long, one that we got up to 60 mph, and another that we got to go upside down!
See A Magical Sunset
These pictures don’t do it justice – but the sunsets were spectacular. Barbara Roja Restaurant was our favorite sunset viewing spot – we even went back twice! It’s kind of nestled in a cove so you have mountains on both sides of you. GORGEOUS!! And the food was pretty delicious too.
Take A Catamaran Boat Ride
We did an all inclusive catamaran snorkel boat trip and it was sooo worth it! We got to see Manuel Antonio from a different perspective in the water and it was breathtaking.
The trip included food, drinks (yes, alcohol too), snorkel equipment, music, and views for days. We did the afternoon trip so that we’d be out on the water while the sun was setting. The sunsets on the west coast of Costa Rica where we were are just breathtaking. The sky turns shades of pink, purple, and orange – combined with the mountain terrain – really some of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen.
There was a water slide on the boat and we were also able to jump off the side into the water.
The snorkeling was NOT the best – the visibility was minimal and we didn’t really see anything. It may have been an off day but the trip was still worth even without the snorkeling.
White Water Rafting – Naranjo River
This was my first time rafting – OMG HOW FUN! I was petrified before we got on the water. The bus ride to the river alone was a little scary at the time. It was about 30 minutes up and down the side of the mountain on an unpaved road. But once we went through the first rapid, I was hooked! The river itself is beautiful. I’d be happy hanging out on the side for the afternoon and having a picnic!
Explore Manuel Antonio National Park
Monkeys, sloths, and so much wild life! We did a bunch of research on how to explore Manuel Antonio park and I think we really did it right.
If you’re driving, don’t fall for the people trying to get you to buy parking before the entrance of the park… Wait until you are pretty much at the entrance – there is parking there and it is CHEAPER than all the other ones along the way. And you won’t have to walk up the hill. You’ll be doing enough walking inside the park
GET A GUIDE!!! If I can recommend one thing from this whole entire trip, it would be to hire a guide to walk you through the park. We wanted to see sloths so bad and we wouldn’t have spotted any of them without our guide. They know where the animals are usually hanging out. Most of the animals are also really hard to see. I had no idea that sloths really only hang out wayyy high up in the trees. The guide will also bring along binoculars – without these, you can barely see the sloths! You can take pictures through the binoculars too.
Take A Surf Lesson
I had never surfed before this but have always wanted to learn! We decided to go with a private surf lesson through Air BnB experiences and it was so worth it. There are so many different companies you can book lessons with but doing the Air Bnb experience allowed us to link up with a local surfer and find a beautiful beach that we wouldn’t have known about otherwise!
Hike To A Waterfall
Our Air Bnb was about a 30 minute hike from a local waterfall – how cool?! We were there in the beginning of dry season (end of January) so the water level in all of the rivers and creeks was very low. Our hike from the house would have been through a creek in the woods but it was more like dirt and mud. The path led us to the top of the waterfall. There were people jumping in but we were too chicken because the water wasn’t that deep!
The second waterfall we got to see was down by Uvita on the same day as our surf lesson! This is the one you see in the pictures below. We walked down a short path that opened into this beautiful waterfall. The water was COLDDD but we had to get in. There was even a little ledge on the other side of the falls. We got to swim under and sit in there – it was pretty awesome!
Eat & Drink Like A Local
Ceviche, Chilli Guarro Shots, Casado, More Chilli Guarro Shots
All of these staple food items of the Costa Rican culture are a must try!!
Chilli Guarro Shots are made with the local Costa Rican liquor – Guaro! Guaro is a tad sweeter than vodka and has a little lower alcohol %.
Chilli Guarro shots are made by mixing these ingredients:
Guaro, Tomato Juice, Lime, Tabasco, Salt. We had one (+) of these almost every time we went out at night!
Ceviche was plentiful and fresh everywhereeeee. I’ve had some good ceviche in the states but nothing compares to dipping freshly fried Patacones in a superb ceviche!
Sign up for a yoga class or do your own flow. The house we were staying in had a huge balcony in the back right in the middle of the jungle. We pulled a vinyasa flow video up on YouTube and had our own private yoga class outside while listening to all the wildlife and enjoying the beautiful weather.
The Manuel Antonio area can get a little pricey and touristy. Don’t get me wrong – it’s amazzinggg – but if you really want to emerge yourself in the local culture, check out downtown Quepos.
At certain times of the year on Friday nights, there is a farmers market where you can get local produce and handmade goods! I got the cutest earrings that were made by a local Tica.
We ended up at one of the Republik Disco Lounge’s one night and had a blast!!